Story by Katie Limberg, Madison McClellan, Michael Schaeper, Vinny Ramundo, and Ellie White
On Friday, August 24, history was made at McNick. For the first time, McNicholas’s Penn Station Stadium, “the Penn,” was lit up by stadium lights as well as the excitement in the air.
Friday night’s game showed the culmination of many years of diligence by many Project Parade committee members. Alumnus and committe member Mike Clark said, “It was a dream that was discussed for 50 years. Several attempts were made but nothing was really done.”
For many schools, the first Friday Night football game symbolizes the beginning of the school, but this Friday symbolized years of dedication to first bring a field, then lights, to campus. The change was felt throughout the crowd, but especially for the football team.
“It feels like true high school football now that we have lights. I feel like it raised the levels of excitement and intensity and made it a truly special night for Rocket High,” said Thomas McDermott, senior co-Football Captain.
Class of 1983 alumnus Greg Rudolph started the Project Paradise committee in 2009. The original goal was to construct an athletic stadium for McNicholas High School. The turf field was installed in 2010 and the inaugural game was held on Oct. 16, 2010. The track was finished in 2011, followed by the bleachers, the plaza and parking lot, the baseball field, the new storage building, the concession building with bathrooms, and finally the stadium lights in 2018.
Students showed up as early as 5 p.m. for pre-game festivities. Food trucks and fans filled the parking lot. Prior to the game, students were invited to take the field with the varsity football team as the skydivers landed on the field with the American and McNicholas flags for the national anthem. The cheerleaders began to lead the student section in cheers for the duration of the game.
Even though the game didn’t go as planned with Goshen defeating the Rockets 21-7, the night was a victory for all Rockets. Junior Isabella Mulvey, who had the honor of turning the lights on along with other children of McNicholas coaches, said, “It means a lot to the coaches, to the football players, and to the fans. It’ll help bring us together.”